Welcome to Canada - Jump Right In!
A German TV station, which was running a reality TV series about immigrants a few years ago, always asked their participants: “What is the secret to successfully starting a new life in a new country?” It seemed that all the successful immigrants on that show had the same answer: go with the flow and embrace the new country, language and culture.
Applied to Canada, this means, “When in Canada, do as the Canadians do”.
Naturally, people like to hang on to their own traditions and customs because it is something they know, and it makes them feel safe. Moving to a strange new place is already unsettling enough, so holding on to a little piece of home just seems like the right thing to do. And yes, it is comforting – but how about embracing a new life with everything it has to offer, while sharing your old life?
Canada is a land of immigrants, but there is no guarantee that you will be able to bond with people from your home country and count on them for support after you move here. Think about it this way – what would you like to see from immigrants moving into your home country? Would you not want them to learn the language and become integrated into everyday life?
So how can you take your first steps toward living your best life in Canada?
Learn the language. There are a variety of ESL (English as a Second Language) and FSL (French as a Second Language) courses available to immigrants at no charge, but why not consider learning some of the daily slang from TV? Chances are that there are TV shows available that you know from home. You would be surprised at how many people have gotten a better understanding of how the language is used by watching TV! Another advantage: you will have another topic to talk about with your new co-workers.
Volunteer. A big part of Canadian culture is volunteering. Many events, charities and schools rely largely on volunteers to operate. Even though most communities have a volunteer base which is mostly made up of retired people (who have more time), younger people are always welcome, and even a few hours of your time can make a big difference. Working with other people on a common goal – even if they are not of the same background as you – will help you make connections in your new life; you may even be able to share some of your own experiences and viewpoints to help make the project a success.
Embrace the culture. Go to your local library and start there. Find out about the history and culture of the community you live in. Is there a museum? Go and visit it! Not only will you find people along the way who are more than willing to share stories about the place you now call home, they will likely also be interested in finding out about you and where you come from.
If you reach out and show that you are serious about building a new life for yourself (and possibly your family), you have managed to take that important first step. Not an easy thing to do; but it’s well worth it because other opportunities will follow.